4. Tennessee football blows another fourth-quarter lead to the Florida Gators in 2015.
The 2014 loss to the Florida Gators was bad enough. But the 2015 loss is arguably the most heartbreaking game of the decade for Tennessee football, and it definitely ranks in the top five for this century.
For context, Butch Jones was entering his third year. Tennessee had gone 5-7 and 7-6, but they returned almost everybody. As a result, this would be the year they take the next step and return to the national scene.
An early loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, after blowing a 17-0 lead, wasn’t bad luck but a sign of a team learning how to win. UT fans accepted it and focused on the next major opponent, the Gators. This had to be the year they end the streak.
Well, the players played well enough to do just that. They controlled the entire second half, leading by two possessions most of the time. And a touchdown run by Jalen Hurd in the fourth quarter spotted them a two-touchdown lead.
This is when what Clay Travis referred to as coaching malpractice by Butch Jones kicked in. Jones went for the extra point up 26-14 instead of two, which every chart says you should do. He had already burned a timeout earlier when Florida was going to kick a long field goal on fourth down, only to see them change their mind, go for it, convert, and then score a touchdown.
After those two incidents, Florida converted three fourth downs on a drive that resulted in a touchdown for them to cut the lead to 27-21. Tennessee tried to run clock the next time, willing to put its tired defense on the field.
They did just that, and Florida converted a 4th and 14 with the game on the line thanks to the one terrible defensive call all day by Jon Jancek. They scored a touchdown on that play and took a 28-27 lead.
On the final drive, a false start penalty and an untimely fumble out of bounds caused the Vols to only run four plays despite a chance at two timeouts. They then tried a long field goal to win, which just missed.
Again, close losses are one thing. Close losses like this to Florida, which owned Tennessee football, are another. This game cost UT the SEC East in the long run, and while the season ended with a 9-4 record and Top 25 finish, which was positive at the time, this loss is one that was impossible to recover from.